I have been debating whether or not to publicize that JP (my husband) and I had COVID back in March. This was confirmed only a of couple of weeks ago through an antibody test, since COVID tests weren’t available in our area when we were infected. I didn’t want people to think that I was sharing for attention, nor that my experience meant that theirs would be similar. As we know, this novel virus is affecting individuals in a wide variety of ways- from being an asymptomatic carrier to needing a bed and ventilator in the ICU. So please don’t lessen your precautionary measures after reading this.
I have decided to share my experience for a few reasons… 1) I want others to feel comfort in knowing someone who had it and survived without any complications., 2) I want to detail JP and I’s day to day signs and symptoms, that lasted for weeks, if not a couple of months., and 3) I want the running community I so deeply love to know how COVID effected my lungs longer than the symptoms and infection lasted for.
Let me start from the beginning…
A new restaurant opened around the corner from us. It’s a seafood bar, and my neighbors and I were intrigued. The news had really been buzzing with rumors of a shutdown coming our way, so against our better judgement, we decided to check it out just in case it was our last chance to (it was). The food was decent, but the company was better. The very next day, Mayor Lightfoot officially announced Chicago’s shelter-in-place order, which began on Saturday, March 21st, 2020. We joked about how we were happy to have had one last restaurant experience for awhile.
I must disclose that JP was extremely anxious from the get go, to the point that I was worried about him. Starting on Tuesday, he began complaining about tightness in his chest and being tired. I truly thought it was anxiety rearing its ugly head amidst the new stay-at-home order. I tried to comfort him and ask him if there was anything I could do, but he withdrew. I focused on and clung to what positives I could- having more time, not having to commute to school 3 hours a day, taking on new hobbies, etc. I even got creative and turned our spare bedroom (which we use as a library) into a temporary hot yoga studio. I did this by heating up the room with a portable heater (on full blast) one hour prior to the start of a virtual class. I would tuck a towel underneath the door to keep the cool air out and the hot air in, and I plugged in our humidifier that doubles as an oil diffuser. Adding eucalyptus oil was heavenly. I was off to a good start in self-isolation…until that Thursday, when I could hardly make it through my yoga class.
It was that feeling of impending doom- that an illness was on the verge of surfacing. I was honestly in denial about it. “I’m just really tired”, I told myself. That night, my sense of taste started to diminish. This was before loss of smell and taste were official signs of COVID, so I thought I had the cold, flu, or a potential sinus infection. The next day, I completely lost my senses of smell and taste. I chalked it up to my sinus headache, inflammation within the sinus cavity, and a possible infection. Yep, I was dumb and tried to self-diagnose.
So here I am, day 3 of feeling sick, with the following symptoms…
Day 1: Weakness and lethargy, started to lose my taste
Day 2: Sinus pressure behind the eyes, headache, lethargy, weakness, runny nose, congestion, inflammation in my nasal cavity, “wet” cough to remove phlegm production, complete loss of taste and smell
Day 3: Same as day 2
At this point, I was convinced I had a sinus infection because my nasal cavity/sinus passageways were inflamed as hell. I have never had sinus issues before. *denial*
Day 4: I registered a fever of 100.9F (mild), another classic sign…
Day 4 is also when I came across numerous articles about people reporting loss of smell and taste as symptoms. THIS freaked me out, and I went down a rabbit hole on the web…
Day 5: Fever subsided, then returned later on
Day 6: All symptoms are still present, but fever has reduced
Days 7-9: All symptoms are still present, BUT seems to be improving day by day
Day 10: My taste and smell start to return after what seems like an eternity!!! Their function doesn’t return fully for another 4 days.
After 2 weeks of being sick (the average reported duration of COVID infections) with the loss of smell and taste (which was unlike anything I have ever experienced before), I was convinced we had and beat COVID. It wasn’t until JP made us appointments for antibody tests 2 months later that we confirmed our suspicions. Damn, were we relieved to have already had it and survived!
So, that was the quick rundown of our experience. It truly felt like an elongated flu bout. I was pretty much bed ridden for 3 days. Unfortunately, I had to crank out my part of a group presentation on subarachnoid hemorrhaging during this time. That was tough when feeling that bad. Aside from that, the worst of it was not being able to smell or taste in isolation! Correct me if I’m wrong, but food and beverage are among the few pleasures you can experience at home. And sex was off the table. LOL. No food. No sex. No fun.
Kidding aside, it felt like someone cut off my ability my smell and taste forever. Like a circuit was shorted. I could not detect an iota of a scent or flavor. NOTHING. It was truly terrifying. And during my dark dive into the web, it said that severe cases might permanently damage the epithelial lining of the nasal cavity- causing permanent loss of senses- WHAT?! Luckily, this wasn’t the case. But honestly, you’ll know if you have it with this.
I tried to run for the first time 3 weeks later. Yes, I was wearing a mask, and I still do while running. I care about passing it to others, even though it’s unlikely to contract it and become contagious again (according to a recent study). Anyways, it felt like I had never run before. Honestly, it felt like I was completely out of shape. For those of you who don’t know me, I have ran 9 marathons, 14 half marathons, and exercise 5-6 times a week. Perhaps a 2 week illness did a number on me, but it did not leave me THAT out of shape. I figured my body was still recovering.
Come to find out that COVID can do long-term damage to your lungs. While I don’t think it is permanent for me, I believe that my lungs took up until recently to heal. That is 2 months. Yes, it could have been me building my base for running again, but the chance that every run felt that tough and strenuous is questionable. JP thinks he had a resurgance of the virus a month later . His lethargy returned, along with coughing, which led to blood in his mucus. Sorry if this is gross, but I find this part important to share. Blood is scary and no joke. We took it seriously and contacted his doctor. They said to monitor it, and after 3 days, it went away. I really think his lungs were affected for a month or two longer as well.
I wanted to add this part for any runner friends who may contract this in the future. I do not wish this on you, but I want you to be prepared and aware that your lungs may need time to recover even after the infection, signs and symptoms have subsided. Give yourself grace. Listen to your body. Be kind to yourself.
Our last really odd sign was COVID toes! We didn’t realize until 2 months after, but our toes had developed these subtle calluses on top of them. I didn’t think anything of mine because I chalked them up to my running and new shoes. But JP mentioned it to me one day, and I was like, “OMG, we had COVID toes too!”. LOL.
So that was our experience with COVID-19. We are so fortunate to have been able to fight it and fully recover. I know others have not been as lucky. When we were sick, we just rested and slept a lot, stayed hydrated, dosed with vitamin C and multivitamins, took Tylenol, flushed with a neti pot, gargled with salt water, drank ACV and lemon tea, drank green tea, and ate a ton of fruits and veggies. I made protein shakes a few times too since protein is supposed to aid in healing. I wish I had known about dosing with vitamin C, D, and zinc prior to being infected, but ya live and ya learn.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments. Once again, just because this was our experience doesn’t mean this will be yours. Take precaution. Be safe. Protect yourself and others. Be well. ❤
And get medical treatment should you need it!